*Grief continues to embrace us all as we attempt to cope with the events of the past weekend in Orlando, Florida, where a young singer named Christina Grimme was fatally wounded by gunman Kevin James Liobl as she signed autographs at a meet-and-greet for her fans, and only a short time later, a single gunman named Omar Mateen entered a gay nightclub and unleashed rapid fire from an assault weapon; killing 49 individuals and sending 44 others to the hospital with multiple high-velocity wounds.
Our nation remains in a state of shock, and family, friends and supporters in despair as we not only grapple with why these senseless attacks continue to happen, but what we can do to support these families and prevent what appears to be a growing momentum of actions resulting from hate and intolerance.
Singer Adam Levine, who was a coach for the 22-year-old singer when she competed on “The Voice” in its sixth season, has generously offered to pay for her funeral and placed a personal call to Christina’s mother to offer his support. President Obama made very compassionate remarks and offered the nation’s unlimited support to the Orlando community saying, ” This could have been any one of our communities,” to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
And now, leaders from the Soka Gakkai International (SGI-USA) Buddhist organization has released a public statement in response to the Orlando shootings.
We are saddened beyond words by this tragic loss of life. As President Obama noted, it was an act arising from hatred, and as Buddhists we believe that the fundamental antidote for the stream of hatred which distorts our society, is to build an even deeper stream of compassion that affirms our bonds as brothers and sisters and challenges those ideologies which would divide us into “us” against “them”.
Finally, we reflect on the shocking fact that a single heavily armed person was able to inflict this much damage and suffering on so many. We therefore call on our elected leaders to put the safety and well-being of our communities first, and to reach across the borders of party and ideology to enact common-sense, humanitarian limits on the availability of those weapons whose only purpose is to kill other human beings.